One evening in Ahmedabad, I need to make a few long distance calls. So I find a STD booth at a quiet junction. I am the only customer, so I settle in, pull out my diary and start dialing.
The last number I need to call is busy. I hang up, wait a minute, dial again. And again. Now a young woman turns up outside the booth, waiting for me to finish. I dial twice more, it's still busy. So I get up and leave, telling her she can use the phone. I'm in no hurry with this call, after all, and I can make it from another booth, and in any case I can't get through just now.
I walk over to the desk where I have to pay, and find the guy behind the counter laughing at me.
"Kya boss, aap social worker hain?" he asks. ("What boss, are you a social worker?")
Baffled, I say: "No, but what's this about?"
"You let that girl make her call before you finished."
"Yeah, but my number was busy, I'll try later."
"Maybe, but I'll tell you one thing. Apna kaam pehla pura karneka, bas!" ("You have got to finish your work first!")
"So you think I should have sat there dialing the busy number again and again until I got through, keeping her waiting?"
"Bola na? Pehla apna kaam pura karneka, bas!" ("Didn't I tell you? You've got to finish your work first, that's all!")
I pay and leave. Five minutes later, at an STD booth a short walk away, I dial the number. It rings.